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Old English feasts launch the yule season around the West.

Old England's holiday feasts may not have been tastier than ours, but it seems as if they were more fun.

From the Middle Ages through the 1870s, people gathered in great candlelit halls for nights of feasting and revelry. The gentry joined with peasant wenches and rogues, drinking toasts and welcoming each course with ceremonial trumpets. Though boisterous and bawdy, they fell silent when the lutes, recorders, and harps began to play and madrigal singers took up their musical embroidery.

Happily, such times aren't lost. Period feasts have been part of the Christmas holiday scene in the West at least since 1927, when the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park launched its first Bracebridge Dinner. Yosemite has the oldest, most sought-after (10,000 people apply for 1,000 spots), and most expensive dinner ($83 per person), but many other Feasts are now held in the West.

Many are hosted by college and university music or theater departments and are staged in student unions. Some are in churches. Others are put on by the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Considering the food offered--usually around seven courses--and the lively entertainment--everything from dancing and singing to jesters, swordsmen, and magicians--prices are reasonable, most of them less than $25 per person.

Meant to be fun, these events also teach period manners by participation: in Phoenix, the "Lord High Commissioner" may grant forgiveness for a year's lusting and gluttony to some wayward guest; in Logan, Utah, a woman who forgets to kiss the man who keeps the salt may require her entire table to offer up a carol. Costume is usually optional.

Many feasts sell out fast, so sign up quickly if you wish to join in, or get your name on a mailing list for next year.

Our listing is alphabetical by state, then by date. Prices are per person; unless noted, there is no discount for children.

We include dates for events held by the Society for Creative Anachronism, (SCA), a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to re-creating the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, which has 170 chapters in the West. Prospective members are welcome to attend. For details on events listed, or information about SCA groups in your area, write or call Sandra dodd, President, Society for Creative Anachronism, 8116 Princess Jeanne Ave. N.E., Albuquerque, N.M. 87110; (505) 299-2476. Include a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope.
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Article Type:Directory
Date:Nov 1, 1984
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